After a final night's sleep at my dear brother and sister-in-law's apartment and adieus from a rather disgruntled early morning pre-schooler, I packed my bags and began the journey from NYC to Montreal to Paris and finally to Berlin for New Year's Eve. This of course took many twists and turns, mostly for the, not worst, so much as delayed and mildly frustrating. The first bit of drama was a delay at Montreal Airport. While many flights were being postponed or even cancelled left and right due to inclement weather, mine never wavered from its original schedule. So when I left the bar (having been fortifying myself with a stiff gin martini) to wait amidst a swarm of holiday travelers, we were all rather confused when we consequently kept waiting and waiting and waaaaaiting with no explanation. Finally, an airline worker made an announcement that our plane was arriving late and would still need time to deplane and refuel and all that jazz before we could even begin to board. I swiftly returned to my seat at the bar.
So after a delay of a couple of hours, I was en route back to Paris, where of course I landed late and had to locate my super shuttle which of course had not stuck around. Eventually, I was back in my little Parisian apartment to repack, eat, sleep and get ready for my early morning train to Germany. Now, you would have thought that a train ride would have gone much more smoothly than a plane, but of course you would have been wrong. I had purchased my tickets online and read on the email that I had to withdraw them from a ticket machine at the station, using the debit card I had charged for the purpose. Since I no longer have that card, I arrived early at the station so that I could speak to someone about the issue and receive my ticket another way. Unfortunately, there was absolutely no staff on hand at 5am and the customer service line was also closed. Eventually, I spoke with a train staff member who told me that my reference number would be enough.... Ummm, no. In the end, I had to repurchase two tickets (there was a transfer) to get to Berlin, and ended up having to do the same for the return because there were no ticket machines in the German station. So fun.
Still, I made it to Germany, utilizing my 8-hour train ride to catch up on some well-needed sleep. Once I arrived, I navigated my way to the hotel where I found that my Hot Blonde Cousin had already checked in. My cousin who, by the way, had also experience delays with her transportation to the airport and was fearing difficulties with her flight as well. Clearly the cosmos was taking issue with our New Year's Eve agenda.
After some rest and some showers, however, we were rejuvenated and ready to roll. We had purposely made dinner reservations online so that we would have substantial nourishment before our evening out. We chose a restaurant called "Sauerkraut", which boasted a traditional menu in a cute ambiance. As soon as we entered the restaurant, however, the waitstaff told us that they were in fact closed, though the online system had mistakenly taken reservations anyway. Thankfully, they had had a few other guests arrive that night and so kept their doors open just a bit longer to accommodate those of us who were without a dinner spot. It felt a little rushed and as if were were annoying the lingering server at first, but the food was delicious and once we were the last table seated, Cousin had flirted sufficiently enough to nab us a free glass of champagne for a toast... Silver lining.
Finally, we were ready to go out and attend the free outdoor party at Brandenberg Gate. It had tragically started to rain and get a whole lot colder, but we were ready with our little bottles of booze in hand. Little did we know that sometime before 10pm, the hour we arrived at the site, all the entrances had been shut down indefinitely. Apparently there were too many partygoers, even though the streets were blocked so far away from the scene of events that we couldn't see a soul in sight. As the rain continued to pummel down and we did our best to warm ourselves with liquor, my attempts at flirting with a security guard were essentially thwarted and we were left with nothing to do.
Interestingly enough, fireworks in Berlin are completely legal, so everywhere we looked people were detonating their explosives and showering the streets with colorful flames. The effect was equal parts magical and sort of horrifying. I couldn't help but be in Germany and think of past world wars, so the constant pops, booms and puffs of smoke were making it all feel very akin to a war zone. As midnight struck amidst pouring rain and bursts of blaze, Hot Blonde Cousin and I said auf wiedersehen to our disastrous day and guten tag to 2016.